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Saying No to War By Saying No to the Irs: With the Deadline for Filing Income Tax Four Days Away, Thousands of Americans Are Refusing to Pay Federal "War" Taxes

StoryApril 11, 2003
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According to the government’s Unified Budget for 2003, a measly 17 percent of the federal budget is earmarked for the military, while over three times as much is spent on Social Security and Medicare. However when you look at the actual budget — that which comes from taxes, minus Social Security funds — we’re spending nearly half of our budget, about $775 billion, on past and present military expenses.

That is the introduction to a recent article "War Tax Resistance Made Simple" that appeared on the news website Alternet.

As tax day approaches, thousands of Americans are expected to refuse to pay part or all of their federal taxes to avoid personally funding war.

Tax resistance is nothing new. Henry David Thoreau may be the nation’s best known tax resister. The author of Walden Pond spent a night in a Massachusetts jail for refusing to pay taxes to support the Mexican-American war of 1846. During the Vietnam War as many as 500,000 withheld part or all of their federal taxes.

As the invasion of Iraq continues, a group of activists, academics and artists have co-signed a petition calling for a new generation of tax resistance. The petition reads in part "war tax refusal under the present circumstances is fully justified on moral and ethical grounds."

Signatories include: Joan Baez; Father Daniel Berrigan; Noam Chomsky; Daniel Ellsberg; Elizabeth McAllister; Grace Paley, Utah Phillips and Howard Zinn.

Today we are joined in our Firehouse studio by long-time tax resister Ruth Benn who is the author of War Tax Resistance. Father Julio Torres of St. Mark’s Church in New York is also with us.

  • Reverend Billy, of Rev. Billy’s Peace Revival & Tax Revolt
  • Ruth Benn, author of War Tax Resistance and coordinator for the National War Tax Resistance coordinating committee. She has been a tax resister since 1980.
  • Father Julio Torres, urging his congregation at St. Mark’s Church to consider tax resistance.

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